JACKSONVILLE, Fla - When a woman gets pregnant it's often too late for her to address some of the problems that could result in a baby dieing within the first year of their life.
Florida's infant mortality rate is at an all-time low. It dropped from 6.4 out of every 1,000 live births in recent years. But that's still too many and there's a group of local dedicated people working to change that.
The building sits on Pearl Street on the Northside of Jacksonville and inside amazing things are happening but it first starts with recruiting women.
"They came out to the apartments in which I live in and you know, they were just giving us health tips," say Renisha Stewart.
Renisha Stewart is 18 now and she's been a part of The Magnolia Project for two years. The goal of the program is to improve the health and well being of women during their childbearing years.
For Renisha it's been a game changer.
"I am a prime example of you do not have to follow what other people do. You can be yourself," says Stewart.
Renisha is the first person in her family to not have kids before 18 years old and also the first in the family to go to college.
"It's a good project. I really hope every young girl my age can get into it, you know because it's more than preventing infant mortality," says Stewart.
For Renisha it's helped her reach goals she never had before but for Isadora Howell being a part of Magnolia Project might have saved her life.
"Yes, I have five kids. I'm from North Carolina. I moved here in 2011 and I came from a domestic situation," says Howell.
She connected with a case worker at Magnolia soon after her move. The case worker came out to her home, watched her children, and made it possible for her to get a job, her own apartment, and even enroll in college.
"It was having someone to talk to. It was having someone to pick you up and take you to your destinations when you need to go and get things for your kids. And you don't have transportation and they actually pick you up. They bought me applications for apartments, anything I needed to know about my children," says Howell
These are two very different women in different phases of their lives but the Magnolia Project stepped in just in time.
"Case management serves those women that are not pregnant. In the event they become pregnant or want to get pregnant, we want them healthy and a lot of their crisis resolved, the stress reduced and all those kinds of things before pregnancy starts," says Faye Johnson.
This type of care is crucial because it addresses the mind, body, and spirit. Clients get medical exams, career counseling, and mental health care from strangers who end up being like family in the process.
"It just changed my life you know it gave me hope. And having a case manager that spoke into my life. That was amazing," says Howell.
For more information:
Faye Johnson, project director
The Magnolia Project
5300 N. Pearl St. (Pearl Plaza)
Jacksonville, FL 32208
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